Loud calls to prayer raise ire of res­i­dents

Cape Times - - News - Zara Ni­chol­son

A GROUP of Bos­ton res­i­dents has lodged com­plaints with lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials about what they say is an overly loud call to prayer from a mosque in Bel­lville where mostly So­ma­lis wor­ship.

The group claim they are pre­pared to go to court with their nui­sance com­plaint since noth­ing is be­ing done to re­duce the noise lev­els com­ing from the mosque in Dur­ban Road.

Hugo de Vil­liers, a Bos­ton res­i­dent, said the group had lodged com­plaints since 2009.

They have now asked MEC for Fi­nance, Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and Tourism Alan Winde to in­ves­ti­gate their com­plaints.

De Vil­liers and other res­i­dents live ap­prox­i­mately 5km from the sec­tion of the Bel­lville CBD where the mosque is sit­u­ated. He said the mosque was also op­er­at­ing il­le­gally as it was only meant to be a prayer room for busi­ness own­ers dur­ing trad­ing hours.

“It is in­sane to be wo­ken up by that noise at 4am. We have tried ev­ery­thing, but they just don’t want to stop. I don’t think that there shouldn’t be a mosque, but they need to put a limit to the noise,” De Vil­liers said.

He said their com­plaint was not a re­li­gious or po­lit­i­cal is­sue, but that the area was dom­i­nated by So­ma­lis and that the area had re­cently at­tracted crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

The ward coun­cil­lor for the Bos­ton area, Leonore van der Walt, said: “The res­i­dents al­lege the call for prayer is loud enough to con­sti­tute a nui­sance.”

How­ever, she added: “We have taken deci­bel read­ings in the area dur­ing prayer-call times and si­mul­ta­ne­ously in the Bos­ton area and we found that there is no dis­tur­bance or nui­sance. In Bos­ton it did not ex­ceed the nui­sance level, but we asked res­i­dents to take down the times and how long the noise lasts for, and sub­mit af­fi­davits say­ing how it im­pacts on them. We can then take it to court and res­i­dents may be called to tes­tify and a mag­is­trate can de­cide.”

Other than the noise is­sue, Van der Walt said she had not re­ceived any other com­plaints about the area.

De Vil­liers said: “It would be in­sane to deny these peo­ple a mosque, but the mosque sum­marises the prob­lems in the area. These peo­ple are in­vad­ing the area and es­tab­lish­ing their own en­vi­ron­ment, that’s why there are prob­lems. Be­cause they don’t abide by the rules, they force their own way on ev­ery­one.”

He said lo­cal busi­nesses own­ers com­plained they were be­ing threat­ened by So­ma­lis.

Tammy Evans, spokesper­son for Winde, said he had re­ceived the com­plaint and would visit the area with city of­fi­cials and the MEC for com­mu­nity Safety to do an as­sess­ment of the area and in­ves­ti­gate the com­plaints.

Pic­ture: BREN­TON GEACH

CUL­TURAL CROSS­ING: A So­mali woman and chil­dren cross a Dur­ban Road in Bel­lville which is densely oc­cu­pied by So­mali shop own­ers. So­ma­lis say the area is the only place where they feel safe in Cape Town.

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